Stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen after it ran aground, in Suez Canal, Egypt March 26, 2021. REUTERS
The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie said dredging operations around the giant Ever Given container ship blocking the canal have reached 87 percent of target as of Friday morning.
Rabie said the SCA's dredger Mashhour, which began operations on Thursday evening, removed around 17,000 cubic meters of sand from around the vessel’s bow.
He explained that the dredger's operations, which started at an initial depth of half a meter, have reached a depth of 15 meters.
Rabie stressed full adherence to navigation safety standards through maintaining a safe distance of the closest allowed point to the ship, which is set at 10 meters.
The SCA's tug boats Baraka 1 and Ezzat Adel will resume towing attempts after the completion of the targets in the dredging work, he explained.
The dredging operations, which are carried in coordination with Dutch firm Smit Salvage, target removing 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand from around the bow in order to reach a depth level of 12 to 16 meters to allow the vessel to float.
Earlier on Friday, the SCA said in a statement it was looking forward to cooperating with the United States” in efforts related to dislodging the giant container ship, which has obstructed the canal since running aground on Tuesday.
The SCA's suspension of all navigation through the waterway on Thursday stopped the world's busiest maritime trade route linking Asia and Europe.
Over 200 vessels have been stranded in Suez or at anchor awaiting transit due to the blockage, according to shipping expert Lloyd’s List Intelligence.
Rough calculations suggest westbound traffic is worth around $5.1billion daily while eastbound traffic is worth $4.5 billion, according to Lloyd’s.
About 12 percent of world trade passes through the Suez Canal, which is the fastest water artery between Europe and Asia.
The canal is a main source of foreign currency for Egypt, bringing in $5.6 billion in revenues in 2020.